The world can certainly do better than this. Here's why.

Thursday, January 27

Force and Belief...

...do not belong in the same phrase. A forced belief is to be categorically rejected due to its discordant premise. A forced belief is one that is imposed upon a select group based upon an inherent, immutable differences. How can anyone be made to believe anything? One believes what one believes; it cannot be any other way. Forcible belief is belief by design, whereas, true believers engage their belief to those experiences incorporate to, and decidedly representative of, their existence.

To dichotomize, some are susceptible to be forced to believe, while others are resistent to being forced to believe. There are those things which people know in fact. Experience underlies these beliefs and is the weighstation of perception. There are the things that one cannot help but believe, however, this is not the same as the imposition of belief upon a select group.

Belief is first based upon what we experience visually, the fastest facet of imagination. The second, being the aural experience. This makes all humans susceptible to the drone of AV media. These lead directly to third, the numerous and impossibly complex feels of the body. While sight and sound can be blocked only in sealing the stream of photoEM and interference waves that constitute those sensory experiences, feelings are the direct product of the mind attemping to make sense causal relations in the corpus. Smell and taste play roles in a secondary part, warning the body of toxicants and attracting us to nourishment, lending two further dimensions to physical experience. Sensory interaction as the sole basis with which to understand the world about us all does not grant us the absolution of total understanding. Instead, we create beliefs about the world, a multicultural means of projecting history into the future, a distinct nature -- as do all other species have their nature we have our human nature.

Religions are naught more than rigid, structured belief systems. They are designed to impose divinity as justification for a system of belief that is not one's own. This is not to denegrate the virtue of religion; history carries valuable lessons in the architecture of all of the world's religions. Whether or not an individual can incorporate the belief structure of a religion is often directly related to the fluidity or rigidity of that structure and its ability to explain the inexplicable. The highly fluid nature of science as a faith-in-numbers design is in stark contrast to the iron-wrought rigidity of Christian fundamentalism or orthodoxy. The conributions of Islamic Arabs to mathematics and science are a testament to admissions of the Muslim faith as to the importance of rational physical understanding within its system. Incorporation of the ideals of religious movement can fast-track human development and understanding; but, doing so without question is the adoption of an exterior belief strucutre denying choice. Imposition of said belief structure implies that choice has been removed -- force and belief.

"A battle for the minds and hearts of [insert "foreign" nation name here]" is a de facto imposition of structured belief, forced belief. That is, at its most basic level, forcing belief is to cause a person to live a lie. Whether in religious discourse or political discourse or international discourse, forced belief is dictum of the powerful.

Thus, the only justified war is a civil or revolutionary war. Wars from within pursue the interests of justice and cultural identity. In the current timeframe, however, exterior factors invariably play a role, influencing and polluting the process by which the desire for change is developped.

Sunday, January 9

U.S. Power

First, and foremost, the united States purports to be a free and democratic union of States, comprised of elected officials and representative of the people of the country they say they defend. However, this cannot, in the present discourse, be farther from the truth.

In a political environment where the neo-conservative majority REQUIRES that the support of Presidential mandate, support for the War on Terrorism, support for the troops, and support for the downstream economic winfalls for large corporations, specifically military contractors and weapons manufacturers, how can the interests of everyday Americans be addressed by the government? Any questioning of Presidential mandate, blinded from the President himself in the form of plausible deniability on any sketchy issue and bound from pubilc scrutiny by the interests of national security, the policies, processes and procedures that drive the U.S. economy constitute a juggernaut of unbridled consumerism that threatens to destroy all in its path.

The conduct of U.S. power simply -- very simply -- ensures the supremacy of the U.S. for the forseeable future. This policy cannot endure as it requires the consumption of more than half of the non-renewable resources of the globe on a daily basis and seeks only to plunder the resources of other nations under the banner of "American interests." While the conduct of a stable government ought to ensure the continued success of the nation under its command, it cannot seek to do so at the cost of the rest of the planet; for, in the end, that nation, too, will bow to the exhaustion of all plantary resource.

The responsible conduct of a powerful nation would ensure the perpetutity of not only that nation, but all of the nations in its charge. Since, then, the U.S.A. seeks to police the world under the banner of an indiscriminate and unilateral global War on Terrorism, all nations fall under the charge of U.S. foreign policy. From the perspective of policcy makers in the annals of neo-Con Americans, all is as it ought to be. In truth, the punditry and willing ignorance of neo-Con media outlets -- not the least of which is the FOX News Channel -- is a graphic example of the illusions of grandeur held by this empowered lot. Their self-sustaining dream of a New World Order created, maintained, and forever encircling the globe under American power is not dissimilar to the dream of the fascist enemy of the 1930s and 40s.

The U.S.A. has induced the creation of enemies across the globe, thus supporting their need for the vast standing armed force that patrols this planet. The ultimate equalizer; the Atomic Bomb, the H-Bomb, the Nuclear Weapon or thermonuclear device; once controlled only by the "good guys" is now both the threat and the answer. This new War, replacing the atomic threat of the Cold War, admits of no identity of enemy. The threat is greater now than it has ever been and, keeping the pressure on "ordinary Americans" through a culture of fear, freedom must be protected at all costs.

The Hegemon cannot be trusted to look beyond its own interests. While majority of the global population languishes in poverty, while the rate of global pollution steadily increases and the biosphere begins to break down, while the march of war continues to claim the lives of innocent individuals, and while the promise of future freedom perpetually comes at the cost of present vigilance, restriction and sacrifice, those in power -- those with vast wealth and political protection -- rule with impunity.

Where has democracy fallen short of its promise? Elected statesmen do not uphold their responsibility and easily bow to special interests and personal wealth management. Elections are held infrequently and with inadequate transparency. A massive and centralized government sturcture does not admit of interest in any issue which does not threaten the stability of the national economy, national security, national policy. One person cannot make a difference any longer, a determined individual can no longer become the leader of a democratic nation without substantial financial backing (read: corporate ownership).

How, then, can the Hegemon be disarmed?

The unilateral War on Terror, while desirable in principle, must be abandoned in practice. The audacity to declare War upon a non-specific notion that may enter the mind of any individual at any moment is absurd. Essentially, Terrorism is an Orwellian "thoughtcrime." Should the foreign policy of the world's most powerful nation follow the same dystopian path?

The declaration of the use of nuclear weapons as a crime against humanity could shift the balance of power more toward the search for peaceful resolution to conflict. Whether or not such a declaration would make a "terrorist" or, more correctly, "madman" more inclined to utilise such a WMD is left to the study of human nature. It would, however, make a "President" less likely to utilise such a weapon. The effects of nuclear detonation are well documented and far-reaching. The accidental meltdown of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor had global effects. There is no telling what havoc the nuclear detontations to date have wreaked upon the natural world. One thing is for certain, whereas the burning of fossil fuels and manipulation of the environment under human influence are things that may have happened accidently by natural means, atomic fission is something purely of human 'construction.'

The global economy, refusing to bow to U.S. hegemony, could choose to exclude the U.S. from trade; much as the U.S. has blocked nations such as Cuba and North Korea. The call for these economic sanctions, in response to the unmasking of false democracy and "War Corporatism" (What Barry Says), would probably initiate the Third World War. This is only becuase the policy makers of the U.S. government are the spoil-sport, crybaby, sore losers that they are -- also reminding me of the exploits of the Third Reich. This would further show the powers-that-be in America for what they are and, hopefully, would trigger a 21st century American Revolution. The dying wish of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. could be realized as the redistribution of vast wealth could provide for all people and an new America could rise from the ashes of old Glory-hog.

Or we could skip all the fuss and bother, impeach President Bush, and start living in the now. Mend ties with the world, withdraw U.S. occupation of foreign nations, build strong co-operative ties among people -- not nations -- and look to the future with open minds to provide the answers we are all desparately looking for.

Sunday, January 2

Asian Seaquake

At peresent, the tsunami, which I will refer to as the Asian Seaquake. Vast amoiunts of human suffering and death continue to flood, er... engulf, er... occur in this impoverished region of the world. The great communicator, television, persists in beaming these images and sound to us, in the wealthy west, making us believe that we are truly interacting with these suffering individuals, when, in fact, we are merely the disaffected voyeurs that, for a moment, align our virtual experience with their actual experience. When, in fact, there is no way to calculate the reality of their situation. We try to fool ourselves into believing that continued ‘coverage’ of the South-East Asian Tsunami crisis will help to solve it, that keeping an eye on it through media coverage shows that we, in the west, care about their suffering; that throwing money and ‘aid’ for the regiion, donated by the vastly wealthy nations of the planet will help to solve the problems that they have.

The problem is that it remains an us vs. them problem. We remain so self-centred and so distanced from the issue that we cannot conceive of the depth of their despair. In the end, I estimate, 350000 to one half million people will have been killed due to this natural disaster. Their lives simply erased from this planet by the force of nature. While we cannot presume to contest the awesome magnitude of nature’s force, we can seek to understand the elements that led to the tragic loss of life that now consumes us all. No nation arises untouched by this upset. 11 nations and at least 20 million people are directly affected.

The Asian seaquake has ravaged several of the poorest nations on Earth. The average per capita GDP of these nations is 11.7% of the Canadian per capita GDP and 9.25% of the per capita GDP of the USA. Their homes and shelters did not stand the proverbial snowball’s chance against the might of a annual torrential downpours, typhoons and widespread flooding; much less the force of the 2004 tsunami, the side effect of a 9.0-magnitude (Ricther-scale) seaquake, an earthquake on the ocean floor. These nations, whose people struggle through life in a manner completely alien to us in the West, are often faced with the adversity of the forces of nature. This disaster need not have come to pass.

Human beings are animals, not dissimilar from the other creatures of the planet. Whether or not one believes in an Almighty Creator, the present fact is that we living creatures are all in this together. We rely upon the same planet to provide us with resource and opportunity to subsist and to exist. So, then, how has it come to pass that in this time of great tragedy, the most ’advanced’ species, the most ‘powerful’ species,the most ‘successful’ species has suffered such a great loss and the ‘lower’ species of the planet have managed to escape unharmed? The global community now seeks to lay blame within power structures and adminstrative structures to determine why more lives were not saved. Questions of politics and economics will be raised as the global community mourns the dead and calculates the cost to rebuild. Had we, humans, looked to the behaviour of other species and followed their lead in moving inland from the wavefront of disaster, leaving behind that which would inevitably be undone, such profound loss of life would have been averted. For where, among the piling bodies of humans, are the animals who were caught unawares?

Early warning signals exist naturally. Those species that cannot detect them for themselves rely upon the signals of other species. This network of understanding has prevented the extinction of species since antiquity. Today, as always, humans seek technological answers to natural questions. A tsunami warning system which currently operates in the Pacific ocean is incapable of warning the inhabitants of the Indian ocean. Furthermore, the wavefront first contacted, and destroyed, Indonesia. No warning was given to Sri Lanka or Somalia, the last places impacted, five hours later and five thousand kilometres distant. The disjointed nature of human nationalism, again, has prevented us from averting catastrophe.

Though unpopular to discuss, especially in the current state of human affairs, the human population problem must also be factored in. In short, due to the lack of sufficient places of habitation for humans in this world, the forces of economy and political pressures aside, the was literally no place else for these people to go. Even if an early warning system had existed, the evacuation of these people could not have been conducted. Resources simply do not exist to support massive displacements of a species that does not live in harmony with its environment.

A seaquake May 22, 1960, centered at 39.5 S, 74.5 W and of magnitude 8.6, devestated the Chilean shoreline. Fourteen hours later, the tsunami wavefront reached the Hawaiian islands, killing 61 people. Nine hours after that, the wavefront reached Japan, killing 150 more people. The behavioural properties of a seismic sea wave are fixed, thus, seismologists can predict the landfall of a tsunami given information about it. In 1994 a seaquake event triggered concern that the wavefront would transit the Pacific Ocean and cause damage along the North American West coast. This information was disseminated rapidly via media outlets hours before the wavefront was to reach shore.

Media consumption in developing nations, the lack thereof, contributed to this disaster. It is difficult to argue against the idea that the presence of a TV in every home in Sri Lanka or Somalia, along with overweight, solobsistic media consumers would have provided an effective defence against the western end of the Asian Seaquake. Once word got out, some people would have been prepared. However, this is simply not a reality in the third world nations of that region. Once recognized as a tsunami produced by a seaquake, the potential one hour lead time for Sri Lankans and potential four hour lead time for Somalis could have saved many lives.

Simply put, in a world of information, the recognition of an event having the potential to inflict widespread destruction and massive loss of life must be faster. The dissemination of this information must be spread as quickly as possible to the people who will be affected regardless of foreign policy, nationalistic ideals, or possible strategic advantages as a result of pursuant devestation. If we don’t take care of one another, no-one will.